FlightAware Discussions

FlightAware Antenna restock?

I recently setup FlightAware for the first time, currently using a simple $8 1090 MHz antenna that I found on Amazon, but the reception range is very limited.

The FlightAware ADS-B Antenna listed on “Build a PiAware ADS-B Receive” is out of stock on Amazon.com. Are there plans to re-stock this item? Or is there another location where this can be purchased?

Thanks!

Is this is the anttenna you have purchased?
https://www.amazon.com/onelinkmore-1090Mhz-Antenna-Connector-Adapter/dp/B013S8B234
image

 

While you are waiting to get your Flightaware Antenna:

You can improve mag-mount whip antenna’s performance by following two simple steps. Each step is independent of other and gives good improvement. Both together will be better, but first one (metal plate/food-can) is more important.

  1. Placing it over a metallic (preferably iron/steel) plate or food-can
  2. Un-srew the whip and use a thin copper or steel wire of length shown in photo below
  3. Try different location of antenna. Generally placing antenna near an outer window or outer wall improves reception.

UTP-Cable-Picture

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Yes, that is the exact antenna that I am using. I saw others mention the first tip in the Amazon reviews, I am using a 9" metal pie plate. Would that be sufficient?

I will give your second suggestion a try. I’m curious, why does this help? Isn’t the antenna above already tuned for 1090 MHz? Also, if you are trying to build a 1/4 wave antenna, shouldn’t the length be (300 / 1090) * 0.25 = 0.06875 meters = 68.75 mm? Not questioning your wisdom here, just trying to understand.

I have the antenna placed near an exterior window, but RF is still a challenge in my home since I have metal siding. I would like to get this on my roof, but I’m not thrilled about drilling a hole in the wall just to satisfy my geekdom.

Thanks for the response!

It is declared as 1090 MHz, but as most of sellers are labelling WiFI Antennas (2400 MHz) as 1090 Mhz, most of these perform bad on 1090 MHz.

Please see diagram below.
NOTE: Although diagram days “CUT HERE”, I would suggest “Do NOT CUT” the whip. instead un-screw it and use a thin wire cut to proper size as whip. A thin wire is required for easily wrapping it’s few turns on the brass screw stud of the magnetic base. I have broken the brass screwed stud once when I tryed to wind a thicd and hard core wire of RG6 coax (it looks copper, but is actually copper coated steel, and very stiff). If you have scrap network cable RJ45, use one of its many wires which are thin and made of copper.

Thank you for the explanation, it makes perfect sense. I will give this a try today.

abcd567,

I harvested a few inches of stranded 18 AWG copper from an old lamp cord and modified my antenna as you suggested. The number of planes that I was tracking immediately doubled. However, I was still only tracking 2-8 planes out to about 40 miles. When I took my setup outside on my deck and reached up to place the antenna on the edge of my roof, the results were dramatic; that resulted in 40-50 planes out to 160 miles. Even now the antenna placement isn’t idea, but it made a huge difference getting outside of my steel-siding home.

Since the FlightAware antenna is out of stock, I am going to give the ADSBexchange antenna a try:

If you would like to get a good one take some more money and get the antenna from Jetvision.
This is the device which is delivered at least in Germany if you get a Flightaware-Receiver.
It’s just a little more expensive, but i think over time more reliable if mounted outdoor

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The 3 things which greatly affect performance of an antenna are:
location, location & location :slight_smile:

 

Try this simple and easy whip also. It gave me 50% more than the 1/4 wavelength whip.

 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER SIZE

 

OPTIONAL: Tuning for best reception by attaching a sliding piece of wire using core insulation to hold main and sliding pieces together.

V-Spider-4-Horizontal-Radials-3

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I built the antenna above with the radials out of a piece of 20 AWG solid copper wire. I am seeing about a 20% increase in range and number of planes tracked. I didn’t do the optional “tuning” portion and unfortunately don’t have an SWR meter.

There is one negative side-effect. While I am seeing more planes and planes further out (peak range in the last 12 hours is 187 nm), the low planes flying over my home disappear from my map when they are very close (< 3 miles). Can the signal be too strong?

I have this antenna arriving tomorrow: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089Q4BVCB/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Yes, it is due to too strong signal when plane is nesrby. Reduce gain setting. If it is default -10, try 49, 45 and 40 dB gain setting.

A higher gain antenna like V-stub, or FA or Adsbx etc picks the cell mobile signal also better, and if these are strong in your location, they can overload the dongle. Generally adding a filter in such cases solves the problem.

Yes, try this (works for standalone dump1090-fa and the piaware image):

Or read a bit of text and do it manually: Thoughts on optimizing gain

I am using the blue FA SDR dongle. I will start experimenting with the gain settings.

Thanks again for the help! Fun stuff.

This is first step.
Most likely it will give you substantial improvement.

 

Next step is to conduct an RF Scan.

Even though FA blue dongle ha a built-in filter, in envirnoments with high RF noise such as mobile/cell, TV and FM can require adding an external filter. The dongle’s tuner has a range of 24 Mhz to 1750 Mhz and can process all these signals.

Please see following post for examples and scan graphs of RF noise in above noted range:

I have set up a temporary indoor aerial while I wait for some bits and pieces to move some amateur radio aerials around on the pole. I tried a few indoor aerials from a 1/4wave, 5/8wave, 3x5/8wave, 4x 1/2wave dipole type, 8 element coax colinear and a Slim Jim. (all made from copper wire)
Results were disappointing for most designs when compared to a Slim Jim which is only about 22cm tall. It’s a piece of 1mm copper wire folded in a rectangle with a small gap on one side - fed with the coax cut off one of the 1/4wave aerials!
I am picking up data up to 100miles away with this hanging from a curtain pole on an upstairs window. The 3x5/8wave only managed 30miles max, the 8 element coaxial colinear was very poor even though the analyser showed it being resonant on 1090MHz.
This could all change when I try aerials outdoors on a pole, but for indoor use, the Slim Jim design was the most efficient for me. I tend to find the SJ works better than colinears on 2m and 70cm too.
My setup was only a bit of an experiment as I wasn’t in to aviation, but had the old Pi left over when I replaced it for a new one running PiHole and I found an RTL-SDR I bought ages ago. The old Pi is running at 90-100% CPU. I will be putting a PiZero with USB&CAT5 hat and a new Flightaware USB dongle inside a waterproof case with the Slim Jim on the top and running a CAT5 and power lead in to the loft and on in to a Powerline Adapter. That way I get zero coax loss, but the cold or extreme heat might kill it!
Keep experimenting with the aerials, what works best here might not somewhere else. I was watching my own data output on the map and comparing it to the FlightAware map.

True.

Try this simple and easy V-Stub wire collinear also.
It worked very good for my indoor location. Gave me 50% more range / plane count compared to 1/4 wavelength. Your milage may vary.

OPTIONAL: Tuning for best reception by attaching a sliding piece of wire using core insulation to hold main and sliding pieces together.

V-Spider-4-Horizontal-Radials-3